$500,000. On average, that’s what a Kardashian/Jenner makes for a single Instagram post.

Kylie Jenner

I remember reading that stat for the first time and thinking to myself, “I picked the wrong career…”

Like it or not, as consumers in the digital age, we all pay attention to influencers. We may not have sought to follow influencers intentionally at first, but one scroll through your Instagram feed, and you’ll see that they’re everywhere.

Selena Gomez

Yet as much double tapping as we do in our off-time, many PR pros are still figuring out just exactly how to correctly leverage this whole influencer thing.

  • How can we work with influencers to add value to our clients?
  • Is influence paid or earned?
  • Are influencers a media category unto themselves?
  • Most importantly, what is an influencer?

Forbes defines influencer as “someone who has the power to influence the perception of others or gets them to do something different.” Not just someone with a large social media following. In addition, these individuals have mastered three “it factors” – reach, contextual credibility and salesmanship.

Cision helpfully divides influencers into seven categories with tips and tricks for PR pros looking to leverage each type:

Everyday Consumers: “Make it easy for customers to review your products, and encourage them to do so after purchase. Send an email with a link to your product review page or Yelp profile a few days after they’ve bought from you.”

Celebrities: “Identify the celebrities that your client’s audience migrates toward, then see how you can work together. Realize that the better known a celebrity is, the more expensive he or she will be to work with, even if that person is open to a brand partnership.”

Journalists: “Know who writes about your industry and start building relationships with those journalists. Get them on the first-to-know list when you have a new product or announcement.”

Micro-Influencers: “Think quality, not quantity. A micro-influencer may not have hundreds of thousands of followers, but if she’s got the attention of her audience, she may be a better influencer resource than a major celebrity you can’t afford anyway.”

Bloggers: “Think beyond the product review post. Today’s influencer bloggers are savvier than that. Ask the bloggers you want to work with for ideas on how you can partner. Bloggers usually have substantial social media followings, so build that into your proposal on how you can work together.”

Employees: “Start by ensuring that your company is a desirable place to work. Happy employees are ones who will realize how great your products are. Then be generous with your product. Make sure everyone has access to it. Encourage them to have their own company-branded social media accounts so they can spread the word the way they want. Realize that doing so will allow your brand to have a greater reach than it would have with just one company social media profile per channel.”

Executives: “If one or more of your corporate executive suite isn’t public facing and a known thought leader, get them there. Start by attending industry events and networking, then work up to creating content under their byline, speaking at events, and donating time and services to help others.”

Influencers are a tricky realm for the PR pro to navigate, as they continue to blur the already dissolving definition of media value. One look at headlines during the Fyre Festival fiasco will tell you that there’s still much to be learned. Fortunately, most of us are already used to being flexible – we have the uncertainty of the digital age to thank for that. Influencers are just one more thing for us to “Keep Up With” … Kardashian pun intended.

(Header photo courtesy of Stock Catalog on Flickr)